Graphite vs. Steel Shafts
Graphite shafts are lighter and are generally preferred on longer clubs like drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids. They are also more expensive.
Steel Shafts are heavier, less flexible but they are also more durable.
One of the most critical choices is between the material of the shafts for the irons.
It’s regularly accepted that graphite is the preferred shaft for longer clubs like drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, a much larger debate exists about which is better for irons.
Pros and Cons
Here is a look at some of the deciding features of each.
Pros: Graphite Shafts
Weight: On average, Graphite shafts have a lighter weight than their steel counterparts, ranging between 30 and 60 grams lighter. Therefore, graphite shafts can be swung at a faster swing speed. A faster swing speed will increase clubhead speed, producing more distance, all things being equal. And all golfers – from high handicappers to PGA Tour players – constantly look for a little more length.
Feel: One of the significant features of graphite shafts is their vibration reduction. This vibration reduction can help save your joints on a mishit shot and feels better in your hands at impact overall. People with arthritis could see an increase in comfort with a graphite shaft.
Flexibility: Graphite shafts are generally more flexible than steel shafts, and bend profiles can be specifically tuned due to the multiple materials and composites available in today’s modern graphite shafts.
Pros: Steel Shafts
Price: Steel iron shafts will be easier on your wallet than graphite shafts, especially when looking at higher-end graphite shafts. If you’re purchasing a new set of irons, you can expect to pay $100 to $200 more for the set if you choose stock graphite shafts over steel.
Feel: As a player improves in skill level, being tuned to how the ball is struck gets more critical. Steel shafts offer more feedback for the player, helping them identify how and where the ball was hit on the club’s face.
Torque: Steel shafts have a lower degree of torque thanks to their increased weight relative to graphite. Higher swing speeds produce more torque, so steel shafts help reduce the twisting. Torque measures a shaft’s resistance to twisting on the downswing. The lower the degree of torque in a given shaft, the more resistant it will be to twisting.
Durability: Steel is more durable than graphite, requiring special care to keep it from being damaged or snapping.
Cons: Graphite Shafts
Price: Graphite shafts are more expensive than steel, with top-of-the-line steel shafts costing about half that of graphite.
Torque: Graphite shafts can be whippier and less consistent with higher swing speeds, harming overall accuracy and distance control.
Cons: Steel Shafts
Weight: Steel shafts are often heavier than their graphite counterpart.
Feel: Mishits with a steel shaft can leave your hands hurting, much more so than with a golf club shafted with graphite.
Which shaft is right for you?
Like with so many things in golf, the shaft you play is very much up to your preferences and what features are most important to you. Graphite and steel shafts continue to improve, and each can benefit any golfer tremendously.
No matter what material your shafts consist of, getting the right flex profile is key to consistent performance. The correct shaft for your swing will improve ball flight and overall results. Figuring that out is easier than ever with the technology of launch monitors and skilled club fitters, so if you’re an avid golfer that wants more control of your golf ball, take the time to get yourself fitted and find the shaft that works best for you.
Typical options include Senior, Regular, Stiff, and Extra Stiff flex.
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